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Project Management

  • PM – Project Management – aims to minimise the time and cost to complete a specific task or project – in particular, it aims to minimise the ‘waste of time’ that can easily arise between the start and finish
  • Usually, the projects involved are large, complex, non-routine, one-off affairs – there’s no business problem to be solved, someone else has done that, just an outcome to be achieved by a certain date, within a certain budget
  • Such outcomes require good planning, organising, securing and managing of resources if they are to be completed successfully, within budget
  • Specialist techniques used by PM professionals include:
    • Gantt charts – from US engineer and consultant, Henry Gantt (1861-1919) – for scheduling and monitoring project activities  – they show who should do what, when plus how long each activity involved in the project is expected to take plus which activities can be done in parallel and which must be in series
    • CPA – Critical Path Analyses – originally devised by Dupont for plant maintenance – they estimate the time needed per task and show the order in which the tasks must be performed, and their interdependence – the critical path is the longest continuous path of activities from start to finish of the whole project – any delays on the critical path will add the delay time to the total time for the project’s completion – any delays elsewhere will not do so, at least to the same extent – hence it is vital to manage CP activities very closely
    • PERT diagrams – Program Evaluation and Review Technique – a network model building on CPA which was devised by Booz Allen consultants to help the US Navy build their Polaris submarines – they usually use simple statistics to allow for variations ((maximum time + minimum time + 4 x most likely time)/ 6) in activity times – a better approach would be to use ‘Monte Carlo simulations’
    • TOC – Theory of Constraints – from Eli Goldratt – covering how to improve the rate of throughput (flow) in any network/ project/ system, level out resources and overcome bottlenecks/ capacity restrictions
    • PRINCE2 – PRojects IN Controlled Environments – originally based on PROMPT – PRINCE2 is a registered trademark of OGC and is a process-based method for effective project management – it’s also a de facto standard used extensively by the UK Government and is widely recognised and used in the private sector, both in the UK and internationally – it’s the latest, computerised method, not just for project scheduling but also project cost estimating – it coordinates people and activities, designs and supervises projects, and makes adjustments if things don’t go to plan, which they never do
  • Some PM professionals claim a wider application for their skills – for planning and managing change in just about any area or function in business – their skills are in realising benefits on time, however, not determining the benefits in the first place



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